Location: Alexandria, VA, USA
In 1909 a proposal to erect a fountain in front of the market was introduced to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the intention of supplying fresh drinking water to horses pulling carts and farmers bringing produce to market. The selected design (by Philadelphia jeweler J. E. Caldwell & Co.) incorporated one of four historical cannons that had been discovered along the Strand in 1908 during improvements to the river front.
The cannon was shipped to Philadelphia, and during construction a solid shot was discovered inside with the likelihood of gunpowder being present. This delayed construction and installation of the fountain which had been planned for April as evidenced on the dedication plaque. In fact the 7 foot 6 inch high bronze-and-iron fountain was not erected until May 6, 1912 where, at the brick intersection of Royal and Cameron streets festooned with flags and bunting, it was dedicated and welcomed with trumpeting and applause.
Three years later complaints were received that the fountain ran continuously wasting thousands of gallons of water; it had also become a place for neighbourhood youths to loiter and bang on the rim of the bowl; and the water basin was being used as a wash basin, bath tub and laundry. A petition was circulated complaining that it was a nuisance and a danger following a 1916 accident when an automobile collided with the fountain. At this point in history the bronze dolphin finial disappeared.
In 1918 an army truck hit the fountain knocking it off its pedestal and catapulting it 40 feet without additional damage to the structure. It was therefore reconnected and remained in situ until October 1919 when it was shipped to Philadelphia for repairs. Upon return it was relocated to the southwest corner of Fairfax and Cameron streets.
The fountain was totally dismantled and rebuilt in 1963. A dedication ceremony was held on June 2, 1967 when as part of the urban renewal project, it was relocated to its present location at North Royal Street.
Not a casting from an established iron foundry, this fountain is unique. The circular base with a channel has two small basins for dogs. A central base supports 4 circular pedestals with attic base and a center column created from the old cannon. A deep circular trough, 4 feet in diameter, with a lip offered water for horses. 2 demilune basins protrude from the side of the cannon. The dipper cups for drinking are missing.
2 dolphin consoles support a basin decorated with scrolls. On the west side is a dedication engraved in a shield format of scrolls and shell: Erected April 1, 1912 / By The / Mount Vernon Chapter D.A.R. / In Memory Of / The Colonial And Revolutionary / Events Of The Town Of / Alexandria Virginia. On the east side is the insignia of the D.A.R. The finial was a dolphin which spouted water into the basin and from the dolphin mouths to the demilune basins.
• Attic base, a column base with two rings
• Console, a decorative bracket support element
• Demilune, half moon or crescent shape
• Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
• Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
Posted on February 18, 2015, in Architecture, Cast Iron, Memorial Drinking Fountain, United States of America and tagged Alexandria, cannon, Daughters of the American Revolution, J. E. Caldwell & Co, Mount Vernon, Virginia. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.